OUR HIDDEN LIVES by Simon Garfield
Our Hidden Lives is the first book in the trilogy of Our Hidden Lives, We are At War and Private Battles based on the diaries of ordinary British citizens written during extraordinary times. In 1936, the Mass-Observation Project asked for volunteers to record their everyday activities and thoughts. By 1939, the tone of the Project changed with the advent of war, rations, gas masks and bombs.
Our Hidden Lives, whilst the first of the trilogy, actually records the latest events from the ending of the European theatre of war to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Nuremburg War Tribunal, the establishment of the Welfare State in Britain in July 1948, the upheavels in India and the shrinking of theBritish Empire, the Partition of Palestine and the establishment of Israel, The Cold War and the general austerity Britain suffered in the years following the end of World War II.
On top of that was the coldest winter so far on record in in which our various diarists felt they would never be warm again.
And the diarists?
“Meet Maggie Joy Blunt, a thoroughly modern young woman, bored out of her mind in a metal company in Slough; George Taylor, a curmudgeonly accountant from Sheffield; who gets annoyed when woken by fireworks celebrating the end of the war. Edie Rutherford, Sheffield housewife and Socialist, who is always arguing with her hairdresser; B. Charles, a gay antiques dealer in Edinburgh and a horrible snob. And meet Herbert Brush, London pensioner, active for his age, and forever creosoting his garden fence and author of ambitious but appalling poetry.”
Retired electrical engineer, south-east London.
Good news. Hitler is really dead. I wonder what sort of reception his astral form has received on the other side.
‘I can imagine when he came
And when his victims heard his name
They gathered round him not to miss
So good a chance to boo and hiss
But those on earth may all agree
From torture he must not go free
That God Almighty has some plan
To punish such a naughty man.’ “
Definitely not poetry to remember!
Title: Our Hidden Lives
Author: Simon Garfield
Publisher: Ebury Press, 2004